I remember a time when I was an active member of the LDS church having many discussions with my non-member, christian neighbor about our beliefs. By that time I was more than 10 years vested in my membership, I had held many callings and studied the doctrines and covenants many times through. Yet, there were still some things I cited and repeated that I now know I didn’t fully understand.
She would ask simple questions — such as aren’t we “forced” to tithe? Isn’t it a requirement?
I remember laughing at that one — like there was a tithing police force in action in the church — had I thought through it in the moment, my laughter would have calmed to a nervous giggle shortly, because well, there sort of is.
A fundamental belief in Mormonism is that the God of this world was once a man who simply did all the things / works necessary to become exalted and thereby became a God himself. That’s ultimately the point of this life. To be tested on earth so that we may return to our Heavenly parents and become exalted as a God, or a priestess/Queen to our Godly husband in the case of women, so as to create many, many spirit children and rule over our own world. In order to do these works on earth, one needs access to a Mormon Temple, but in order to go inside the temple, one needs a “recommend” (a card that says the carrier of the card is worthy — they have passed a two-prong examination by the patriarchal leadership) and in order to obtain a recommend one has to be able to answer a series of 13 questions. One of those questions is, “Are you a full tithe payer.” So, unless your goal is to eternally live in a “lessor” level of heaven (Mormons believe there are three) you best be getting your works on…and tithing is a foundational principle of those works.
And tithing, mind you, isn’t all counted the same. Giving to your favorite charity, or helping a distressed family member, though nice, and certainly charitable, does not count at your end-of-the-year tithing settlement, where you meet one-on-one with your Bishop (pastor) to declare if you were, or were not, a full tithe payer.
No, tithing is defined as 10% of your “gain” paid directly to the LDS church, to use as they see fit. 10% gross or net, you ask? Well, that is between you and the Lord, they say, but really, do you prefer gross or net blessings? A common theme spoken amongst the people of the church.
Unless you live under a rock, you’ve probably seen the news reports on the whistleblower who uncovered $100 BILLION in unreported monies held by the Mormon church — and of that money how much actually goes to humanitarian aid or charity annually? It amounts to something like $5 per member per year. It’s not only disheartening, it’s disgusting. Yet, even with the news reports, members will continue to pay their tithes, not questioning those in leadership, and they will encourage and teach their children to pay as well. See Mormonism has a prosperity mentality when it comes to their tithes — IF I tithe, I will receive blessings in return. If I don’t tithe, I might not be able to pay my bills, buy a car, keep my house, stay healthy — fill in the blank. And prosperity tithing is just one example of the fear tactics used on faithful members.
This year, 2020, will mark my fifth year out of the church. And I will honestly say, it has taken all five years for me to feel like I am beginning to comprehend all the ways in which this religion had their tentacles in me. All the ways I was literally brain-washed. Group think is alive and well here, and it’s dangerous.
When I was investigating the church and deciding to become a member or not, I met so many wonderful, welcoming people. Arms wide open, couldn’t get more social invites if I tried. By the time I stepped foot in the baptismal font, I was well integrated socially and it grew from there. All our friends, at least our most intimate friends, were also members. We all went along believing and doing the same things, together. It seemed so normal. And on the rare occassions when I would stop for a moment and question something that didn’t quite sound right, I was always directed to pray and read the Book of Mormon — never the bible. The church is very vested in being directed by “feelings”. They call it the promptings of the Holy Ghost, but today I recognize it ties in with the group think. Of course I don’t want to feel differently than all my close friends about a precious topic such as tithing, or exaltation for that matter. And the BOM and Doctrines & Covenants support all that is taught. Even the Mormon version of the KJV bible has been “cleaned up” by its founder, Joseph Smith. He literally REWROTE portions of the bible to twist them to fit his agenda. Of course I didn’t trust the bible, I didn’t even have the opportunity to read the bible in its original form.
Here I am, five years out, and only now am I really able to dig in to the Word and see where the twisting occurred. Only now, far enough away from the group think am I able to think clearly and challenge what I was told to be true.
When I saw the quote from Albert Einstein above it resonated with me — loudly. Never again will I blindly follow any man’s teachings. God granted me a brain, the ability to read and His word. I will use them all together to determine what is true and how it applies in my life and I will share what I learn without fear of being ostracized any longer — because as it says in John 15:18:
If the world hates you, remember that it hated me first.
I no longer stand for an organization, but for God. I can’t begin to express how freeing that is.